A Guide to Understanding Different Interior Design Styles - post image background.

A Guide to Understanding Different Interior Design Styles

While styles come and go, the essence of interior design stays true to the notion of making a space both comfortable and functional. Interior design is an art and a practice that has evolved over the centuries. Like fashion and architecture, interior design is constantly in a state of flux, with new styles being introduced all the time.

Different interior design styles explainedThis design of this living room is particularly interesting, with a striking contrast of light and dark with accents of gold and green, as well as a multitude of different textures | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London

From traditional to art-deco and from contemporary to Scandinavian, there is an interior design style for everybody. However, with so many options, choosing the right one can be challenging. This is why understanding the different interior design styles is the key to perfecting the aesthetic of a space.

In this guide, we explain six different interior design styles and trends.

Different Interior Design Styles Explained

There are various interior design styles, such as traditional, transitional, contemporary, and mid-century modern, each one with its own unique look and feel. 

With that in mind, let us explore some of the different styles that have proven popular in recent years. 


Traditional interior design style stems from 18th and early 19th-century European decor, mainly British and French. It has a rich, opulent feel and is often categorised by neutral colour schemes, sophisticated furnishings, the extensive use of antiques, and a sense of formality. 

Symmetry, order, and balance define the traditional interior design style rather than the asymmetric designs often found in more contemporary and modern interiors. For example, traditionally styled spaces feature furniture arranged symmetrically around a focal point, such as a fireplace or chandelier. 

Many traditional homes feature furniture pieces such as upholstered sofas, armchairs, ottomans, and accessories such as antique lamps. Meanwhile, traditional walls often feature panelling, wainscoting, and crown moulding, along with wallpaper patterns featuring striped, floral, and damask patterns. 

This opulent interior style is detail-oriented with rich embellishments, such as carved wood detailing, plush fabrics, and elegant trimmings. Such traditionalism is synonymous with elegance, sophistication and is often found in quintessential stately homes. 


Transitional homes are seamless blends of modern and traditional elements that appear perfectly contrasted, allowing for the perfect combination of comfort and style. 

By definition, the transitional interior design style strikes a perfect balance between the classic and contemporary styles, combining elements from these two aesthetics into a refined, yet casual interior. It features clean lines of contemporary furniture combined with more traditional accents like floral prints and ornate rugs.

Transitional interiors tend to be very neutral in colour, with large splashed of colour coming from artwork or accent pillows in the space. Textures play an important role in a transitional design space as well. Materials such as suede, leather, or chenille, as well as wooden or glass elements, work well in transitional areas.

Art Deco

From when it first appeared in France in the early twentieth century, art deco was quick to spread through the architectural world. Inspired primarily by African, Egyptian, and Mexican cultures, this style is all about exotic glamour and typically features geometric patterns, bold colours, and patterned materials.

Art deco design features bold geometric forms and intense colours such as turquoise, orange, pink, black, and gold. Meanwhile, chevron, zigzag, sunburst and stepped patterns are often found on wall or floor coverings, upholstery, and textiles in art deco interiors.  

Equally, smooth, sleek materials like stainless steel, chrome, lacquer, glass, and polished wood, as well as premium-quality textiles, such as satin, velvet, fur, and silk are used to create rich and extravagant spaces. 

Furniture often featured in art deco interiors include leather armchairs and sofas with chrome legs, floor lamps with sleek lines and colourful shades, whereas floors may feature geometric-patterned area rugs. The walls may be covered in wallpaper featuring dramatic prints or contrasting solid colours such as black and white.


A different interior design style exampleThis contemporary living room employs plenty of clean lines and pale colours to make it feel space feel light and comfortable | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London

Contemporary interior designers are inspired by the now and the future, taking current trends and blending them with classic design principles to create unique styles for modern spaces. As such, contemporary style is constantly evolving as new trends arise and existing ones fade away. While some think this makes the contemporary design style hard to define, others love its flexibility. 

A hallmark of contemporary design is its distinguished blend of simplicity and flair, as well as clean lines throughout a space. Contemporary spaces eliminate clutter and focus on minimalist furniture, wall space, and neutral colour schemes. 

Cool-toned upholstered sofas and armchairs and warm-toned wood furniture, such as coffee tables and cabinets, dominate contemporary rooms. They may also feature subtle accents that don’t clutter the space, such as geometric patterns on accent pillows, rugs, and window coverings.

Mid-century Modern

The mid-century modern style is an interior design style that emerged in the mid-20th century in the United States. This style is known for its simplicity, organic elements, high functionality, and minimalism, which can be noted in the simple and sleek lines of its furniture. 

Mid-century modern interiors can be dark and moody, but they can also be light and airy. They often include shades of bold colours, such as mustard yellow, avocado green, or flamingo pink, mixed with more neutral tones like grey, beige, and white. 

Apart from the perfect balance of bold and neutral colours, mid-century modern interiors can be recognised by their combination of manmade materials, such as plastic, fibreglass, and vinyl, with natural elements, such as wooden-framed furniture and marble surfaces. 

This design style is great for anyone who likes a less cluttered look without sacrificing personality and colour. The focus of this interior decorating style is to create a home that feels at one with nature. 


Scandinavian interior design style explainedHere, the space combines contemporary minimalism with Scandinavian accents, including the fur pelt, firewood, and dark wood coffee table | Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for © Minotti London

The Scandinavian design style is characterised by functionality and simplicity. Born in the Nordic countries, it has spread all over the world thanks to its warm and comforting aesthetic. 

Scandinavian design is known for being highly functional and practical without being overly decorative or flashy. This is why Scandinavian spaces can often be characterised by a lack of excess decorative elements, which in turn creates spaciousness and clarity. Furthermore, they are often bright and airy, with large or floor-to-ceiling windows that provide plenty of natural light.

Scandinavian interior design is based on three basic principles: functionality, simplicity, and beauty. The pieces of furniture often have clean lines and neutral, light colours such as white, beige, and grey, supplemented by more vivid colours like yellow, green, or red.

Understanding Different Interior Design Styles 

The evolving nature of interior design has created many different interior design styles over the last century. Each one has a variety of unique features and understanding the differences between them is essential to create a cohesive look among the entire space. 

To conclude then, here is a summary of the different interior design styles explained in this article are: 

  • Traditional: This style is rich, symmetrical, and balanced, ideal for those who enjoy classic furnishings. 
  • Transitional: The transitional style is a mix of traditional and contemporary styles.
  • Art Deco: Luxury, elegance, and comfort combined with exotic patterns are the focus of this design style. 
  • Contemporary: This style perfectly blends current interior design trends and classic design styles. 
  • Mid-century Modern: This design style is characterised by comfort, organic elements, and minimalism.
  • Scandinavian: Scandinavian spaces are clean, functional, simple, and minimalistic. 

The Minotti London collection features a wide range of furniture to suit a myriad of different interior designs. To discover the complete collection, or discuss a project, please visit our London showroom or make an appointment with one of our colleagues.

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